RIO DE JANEIRO — Boarding late in the day, Ron Perlman (“Hellboy,” “Sons of Anarchy,” “Drive”) has completed the key cast of Alfonso Pineda Ulloa’s “The Jesuit,” L.A.-based Mexican producer Alex Garcia’s biggest action-thriller to date at AG Studios, departing from a Paul Schrader screenplay.
A road movie actioner, “The Jesuit,” turns on an ex-con, wrongly imprisoned, called the Jesuit, whose ex-wife is murdered by her boyfriend who then kidnaps his son. The Jesuit devises an elaborate plan to save his son and avenge the murder, embarking on a revenge rampage from Texas through Mexico to its deep, deep jungle in Mexico’s south. Perlman plays “The Jesuit’s” out-and-out villain.
“As is most always the case, I was impressed by the writing and the people involved in the process,” Perlman commented on his casting.
“And of course, it didn’t hurt that it was shooting in Mexico, a place I have been enchanted by since ‘Cronos’ in 1992,” he added.
Guillermo del Toro’s breakthrough film, “Cronos” began a long-term collaboration between Perlman and Del Toro taking in the “Hellboy” franchise, “Blade II” and “Pacific Rim.”
Mexico’s Jose Maria Yaspik (“I’m So Excited! “The Burning Plain”) plays The Jesuit; Paz Vega (“Spanglish”), Shannyn Sossamann (“One Missed Call”) and Tim Roth co-star.
In another late cast addition, Heidrich Sellati (“The Americans”) plays the Jesuit’s son.
“The Jesuit” has completed post-production and is near ready for delivery, said Mineko Mori, co-head of AG Studios distrib/sales arm Latam Distribution said at the RioMarket.
“’The Jesuit’ gives Latin people one of their first real anti-heroes. It tells a universal story of a parent desperately looking for his kid. It’s also a story about redemption, a story about a man whose violent past catches up with him in a big way,” added Itaca Films CEO Santiago Garcia Galvan.
“The Jesuit” is also AG Studios’ biggest action movie to date, showing it harnessing its assets and talent on both sides of the U.S./Mexico border.
Itaca Films in Mexico and New Orleans produce in association with Santa Monica and Mexico City-based BN Films, run by Lucas Akoskin and Alex Garcia. Using Itaca New Orleans’ crew, “The Jesuit” shot in L.A. and Lancaster, Southern California. Pineda Ulloa comes from Mexico. Debuting with “Love, Pain and Vice Versa,” Mexico’s Pineda Ulloa has helmed two films for Itaca: Garcia, based out of L.A., produces with Garcia Galvan, in Mexico City, and Jose Martinez Jr. Jay Cohen at Gersh Agency handles U.S. distribution rights.
Rights sold by Mexico City-based Latam Distribution could depend on the terms of a U.S. deal, said Mori at the RioMarket, where both Garcia Galvan and Mori spoke on panels on the Latin Market in the U.S., How To Release Your Film in the Mexican Market and – for a primarily Brazilian audience – Co-producing With Mexico. With operations in Brazil and Colombia and Mexico, AG Studios is well positioned to co-produce.
“The Jesuit” has still to be seen. One fan, however, is Paul Schrader, who knows something about revenge actioners, having scripted the 1977 cult “Rolling Thunder.” He had envisaged “The Jesuit” as a Latin return to his action exploitation roots.
“It’s a badass exploitation film with a black soul and shoot-from-the-hip style. “Alfonso did a great job. Jose Maria Yazpik, aka The Jesuit, is a totally cool, mean son-of-a-bitch and a movie star to boot,” he told Anne Thompson at Indiewire.
He added: Even though there were elements that didn’t make sense and things I would not have approved of, I was caught up in the film’s exploitation gusto. I even watched it a second time.”